Yesterday, seven new children were baptized at the cathedral. They were, as the prayer book says, “all sorts and conditions.” Some cried and others trembled,while some took it all in with wonder and others just let it happen to them. The were marked as Christ’s own forever.
To be marked is a strange thing. In Mark’s gospel when Jesus says “Take up your cross” the Greek is “Stauros”. Not the cross of the crucifixion. That is a different word. Stauros meant “mark.” It meant an identifying mark. “Take up your identifying mark.” The stauros was a “tau” – the letter “T” and it was the iron brand of burnt flesh on a slave, a sheep or a soldier – indicating that they were owned by someone.
To be marked as Christ’s own forever feels good to me. I want to be marked as Christ’s. From what I read about Him, I want to be His. I want to be associated with a kind person who faced down abusive power and lifted up the lowly.
Jesus reflected God to us- God as lover, God as Giver and God as creator. We love and we give and we create. We can’t help it. We are marked as God’s, we baptized people.
So we help each other to be our true selves. We help each other to love by exhibiting love. We help each other to give by modeling giving. And we help each other to create by making new things happen every day.
I am a priest. I am also a fundraiser and a potter. Today someone asked me why I thought I could be both priest and fundraiser at the same time. I answered, that I could not see how I could not be both at the same time.
I do not help people to give by designing pledge campaigns, hosting planned giving dinners, and building major gifts programs. I help people to give by reminding them that to do so is how they were designed. Our pledge cards are not annoying papers at which we wince. They are opportunities to be the lovers, givers and creators in whose image we were made. The are like chalices and patens, fonts and oil bowls. They are physical, holy things.
I give 10% of my income to the church. Its not a membership fee. It is a symbol that I understand my baptism.